Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Libel avoidance, part II

To assist with the background material for today's Irish Times report on Martin McGuinness's "one million per cent" denial that he was a British agent (an allegation which we consider to be total shite), we're posting here the full text and link to the Commons debate from 8th February where the allegation was aired (the IT gives the date but it's a pain in the neck to find the exact point in Hansard where it happened):

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Order. I am happy with the hon. Gentleman's remarks so far, but he will be aware that that case is now sub judice. As long as his remarks are of a general nature, I am happy to allow them, but I would not want him to go into too much detail about that case.

Mr. Robinson: I am happy to comply, Mr. Deputy Speaker—I am all the more happy, because I have only one more sentence to deliver in relation to the case: rather than punish republicans for that continuing crime, the Government want to reward them.

[various allegations about IRA money-laundering and criminality, 8 Feb 2006 : Column 958]

Dr. McCrea: I am sure that the House will be greatly alarmed at some of the facts and figures that my hon. Friend is giving. Will he ask the Secretary of State to look into the suggestion that one of the leading members of the IRA and the army council, Martin McGuinness, has been a paid British agent for a long time?

Mr. Robinson: I am not quite sure how much he might be getting for such a position, but I do know that there is considerable discomfort in the ranks of the republican movement as they each look over their shoulders to see where the next paid agent is going to come from. I am sure that the Secretary of State [Peter Hain] has heard what my hon. Friend has said and will want to scribble down a note and respond to it when he winds up.

He didn't.

UPDATE: In addition to several relevant Slugger links, Liam Clarke in the Sunday Times goes for the deductive approach to the allegations: McGuinness couldn't have survived, physically and politically, for as long as he did, without help. The usual question in such a case would be whether he was lucky or good?

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